Friday, June 15, 2007

downtown with my pants off, Santa Fe

Or I was. With a towel wrapped turban-style around my wet hair. Pants off until I had to go explore a bit. New Mexico is a lot like Old Mexico. But better roads I guess. And actually, it was mostly Mexico until 1912. Lots of clay or adobe or whatever it is all the buildings are made out of. A little disorienting to be honest. Lots of Mexicanos, or people with some sort of native American genetics I suppose. Mexicans have always struck me as tough. I'm always afraid that they're going to try and push me around. Is that racist? Is that a stereotype? Does the fact that I don't think black people should get reparations for slavery but I'm fine with reservations and tax breaks and legal gambling for natives, does this make me a racist? These are the things I wondered about as I drove around the crooked streets of Santa Fe.

The city center is a bit of a tourist trap, despite its very early colonial charm. I tried to go outside this area, down to the 2nd Street Brewery on Grant's recommendation, but it was packed with dirty hippies and I didn't think I'd fit in.

So I went uptown to the Cowgirl (also on Grant's recommendation) where I ordered food to go and waited at the bar staring at the 37 year old bartender's beautiful ass sheathed in tight, low cut blue jeans. She was very flirty. I tipped well. I'm a sucker. I enjoyed an Odell's Cutthroat Porter (fitting name) and a Steamboat (?) IPA. They were both excellent.

I also chatted with a guy whose making a movie in the area. The 4th Indiana Jones. He's a grip. I asked him what else he worked on and he listed a bunch of movies made when I was still an infant: Blues Brothers, Biggest Little Whorehouse in Texas (one of my grandfather's favorites), 9 to 5 and other Dolly Parton greats. He had a lot of tatoos.

Also, a short but tough looking Mexican man with a skull cap pony tail (a tuft of hair on the top of the skull, the rest shorn clean, descending tightly in braids to the middle of his back) told me to "enjoy your beer man, you earned it." There was only one open seat and his wife sat there and I offered him mine, I only had a wee bit left in the glass. I think he assumed that because of my severe sunburn and two week old beard I was some sort of manual laborer, a landscaper perhaps. I was a landscaper at one or two times in my life, but this beard and burn were accumulated by standing around at 10,000' flinging a little tuft of hair and feathers at rising trout.

But it wasn't all luxury up in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hiking up and down the mountain at altitude can really take it out of you. And the mosquitoes. The mosquitoes and flies were horrendous. Particularly in the woods. It's like Canadian shield of something.

Anyway, I spent five days in the backcountry, fished three different lakes, caught a lot of greenback cutthroats, got some serious sunburn, and generally had a very fine time.

Here are some pictures.

I camped above "the pool" the first night. I thought the pool sounded like good fishing, but it wasn't. This is the pool.

Back when I was paddling whitewater, I could have run this. Fern Falls.

This was posted at Fern Lake. I didn't see anything bigger than a Marmot. Except the elk and deer. But the elk were everywhere in the park. Like squirrels at IU.

The patrol hut at Fern Lake that is "not routinely staffed".

It rained the first day I was there. This is above Fern Lake. Click both to enlarge.

Giant cutthroat eats Rockies.

The greenback cutthroat is a rare subspecies of cutthroat that survives in small, headwater streams and lakes mostly in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is the time they spawn (supposedly) and they all (or just the males?) have on their fancy red color. They always have a little red on their throats, hence the name, but this time of year they are rather spectacular. I've made a mosaic of greenback. Click it for a glorious bigger version. Click to enlarge.

Spruce lake is a couple hundred feet above Fern lake and about a mile to the north. I caught a lot of fish there. I also wanted to get up to an even higher lake, Loomis Lake, but I couldn't find the trail. There was a lot of snow and it was very, very steep. Click to enlarge.

A second giant cutthroat discovered!

Fern lake again. Click to enlarge.

Odessa lake is about a mile to the south of Fern lake and a couple hundred feet higher than Spruce lake. It was very pretty there. Click for bigger.

I really wanted to climb above tree line at least once and this seemed like the best way to go. This was steep, about 45 degrees, but above that, at least looking at the map, it was a fairly easy half mile walk to treeline. Unfortunately, about 1/4 of the way up I broke through the snow and found myself dangling four feet above a pretty serious torrent of runoff. I was lucky I guess that I didn't break through with both feet and get stuck under there. I slid down slowly and carefully.

Odessa lake looking east back down toward Fern lake. Click to enlarge.

The outlet of Odessa lake. There was a lot of snow up there.

Looking down on Fern lake from the trail to Odessa.

Fern lake again.

Did I mention the bugs were bad? They loved my stinky sock liners.

Tomorrow it's off to the Forks of the Gila, the land of Mogollon. The land of Geronimo. The land of Leopold.

The land of many rattlesnakes.

Then onto Phoenix. The temporary land of MB Pell! The blaze of leather.


Tracy said...

Good grief! Falling through the snow is dangerous! As are the mountain lions. Fight back!

erika said...

I didn't like Santa Fe when I went to visit. I feel bad about that, but it just seemed like such a faker. The Rockies, however, are stunning. Those pictures make me thirsty for an icy swim.

The trout mosaic is excellent. Anytime someone feels as much apparent love for something as you feel for trout, it makes me very glad.

Can you explain why you are on this super summer extravaganza Matt? Maybe I missed it the first time. Is it just cause you could?

Anonymous said...

your pics are great. Parts of Rocky Mountain NP remind me alot of Glacier NP. I think Daniel is coming out to PDX next week.


D Hanks said...


I'm so jealous!!! Looks to be a fun time.

And what the heck Mo. I am coming out to PDX. Would like to see you while we're there. Give me an e-mail or a call.


Pell said...

Los Papas,
Who signed your site as Sean Bonzall? Was that me? I suppose it doesn't really matter. Anyhow get ready to ride. I've got some events planned for us out here. I'm talking hookers.

Anonymous said...

fMaureen, Daniel, what the hell is PDX? Is that Portland? When is this glorious meeting going to take place?

E to the K A, it pretty much is just because I could. I figured it was the last summer I had before I really had to buckle down on the dissertation and job market etc.